B. Muralidhar Reddy
LTTE says attack a violation of ceasefire
LTTE lodges complaint with Monitoring MissionRajapaksa to consider peace offer by Prabakaran
COLOMBO: Sri Lanka on Monday took control of the strategic Tamil Tiger held Sampur town in the Trincomalee district. The town occupied by the LTTE since the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) has been the theatre of hostilities since August 24.
In recent days, the Sri Lankan military has repeatedly complained that the Tiger military base at Sampur has been targeting the main naval base in Trincomalee as well as causing turmoil in the Muslim-dominated Muttur town leaving scores dead and thousands homeless.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa broke the news about the capture of the town at the 55th anniversary celebrations of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) here during the day.
"Sampur is now totally under the Government military control. The Government proved that Sri Lankan forces are in a position to successfully face the challenges of terrorism", he told the delegates amidst cheers.
Mr. Rajapaksa also praised the army chief Sarath Fonseka who resumed duties a few days after recovering from a murderous attempt on his life in Colombo in April this year.
A spokesman for the military said the security forces are continuing their operations in the southern part of Trincomalee and steadily moving towards the LTTE-controlled areas.
The LTTE termed the advance of the military into Sampur as a "breach of the CFA" and lodged a complaint with the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM).
It claimed the military operation had left 97 civilians killed, 215 civilians injured and 46,000 civilians displaced. Besides homes and other public buildings, crops and livestock were also destroyed, it said.
"The GoSL started the war of occupation of Sampur on 28 August, with no concern about the Ceasefire Agreement. GoSL is now gleefully celebrating the destruction it wrought on the people of Sampur. Why is SLMM quiet in the face of this arrogance of the GoSL to commit atrocities against civilians?" the complaint read.
Mr. Rajapaksa had made known the intentions of the Government to neutralise the threat from Sampur on August 21.
Reaffirming commitment to the CFA, Mr. Rajapaksa had told the envoys of Co-Chairs of the island nation that his Government will "seriously consider" any initiative incorporating a clear commitment to a comprehensive and verifiable cessation of hostilities to be made by the LTTE leader, V. Prabakaran.
He told the envoys that such a cessation of hostilities should include the "explicit modality" of ensuring that Sampur area does not pose a military threat to the Trincomalee harbour and its environs emanating from the LTTE military presence in the area.
Speaking to TamilNet, Trincomalee district political head of the LTTE, S. Elilan, said the Government's "undeclared aggression" began in April. From the outset, the Sri Lankan strategy has centred on targeting civilians, he said.
Mr. Rajapaksa has said his Government will form an international independent commission to probe "abductions, disappearances and extra-judicial killings."
Asked by the Government-run newspaper Daily News on the execution style killing of 17 workers of the French NGO in Muttur on August 4, he said the commission would consist of internationally reputed judges, human rights activists and civil society representatives.
It will have full powers to investigate all such incidents and the security forces and the police have been requested to extend their full cooperation.